What Is Google’s Performance Max?


You’ve heard of Paid Search, and you’ve heard of Display. But what about Performance Max? Performance Max was introduced to Google Ads somewhat recently and only rolled out worldwide in 2021. Google claims that Performance Max campaigns can “drive more conversions across all Google Ads inventory,” but what does that really mean? Are there any drawbacks of using this campaign type?

We dove into Google’s Performance Max to find the answers, so you don’t have to. Read on to see what we discovered.

Introducing Google’s Performance Max

Performance Max allows you to span marketing efforts across all of Google's marketing channels, making it an appealing choice for businesses who could benefit from a broad marketing bandwidth.

For Performance Max to work, you must provide some assets (headlines, descriptions, images, videos, etc.), then Google automatically creates ads based on the assets you provide. You can further refine Performance Max campaigns by providing input on audience targeting, based on information from your customer database. This fine-tuning process helps direct your campaigns towards a more optimal way to engage with your ideal guests.

After providing initial assets and audience data, your Performance Max campaigns are then eligible to run across all of Google’s inventory, which is a big differentiator from other Google campaign types. Google’s inventory & placements include Search, Display, YouTube, Gmail, and Discovery campaigns. The extensive placement significantly boosts your campaign's range, making it more effective in reaching prospective guests.

If you’re looking for a more hands off and more automated advertising approach, exploring Performance Max campaigns is a great option. It’s essential, however, to weigh the advantages and drawbacks to make an informed decision. Let's explore the key pros and cons of using Performance Max, providing you with a comprehensive understanding of this dynamic advertising strategy.

Pros And Cons Of Google Performance Max Campaigns

Now that you know what Performance Max campaigns are and how they work, it’s time to decide if you should use them. There are a number of benefits to the campaign, but they can also cause some problems in certain cases. Here are some of the highlights.

Pro - Reach

Performance Max enables businesses to consistently reach customers across all of Google's ad channels, which is ideal for effectively reaching customers with complex booking journeys. Consumers have increasing expectations and studies have shown that 87% of consumers want more cross-channel experiences, so it is important to show up in times where these interactions matter most. 

Pro - Individualization

With the use of machine learning, a subset of artificial intelligence, Performance Max is able to create individualized marketing funnels based on the individual needs of each prospect. It does this by building deep data profiles on each user, to track and measure their interactions to most effectively reach and engage with prospects. 

Pro - Unique Approach

Google has opened up a door to new settings that are not available with other campaign types. Performance Max can optimize towards exclusively new customers, or new and existing customers, but bids higher on new ones. This enables businesses to approach their market in two distinct ways. 

The first is to capture an entirely new market, who has not yet engaged with your brand. This approach will not offer an immediate ROI, but can cultivate a larger market share reach for your brand and may ultimately lead to a higher return in the long run. 

The second option is to bid on both new and existing customers, but to bid higher on new. This allows you to identify new customers for your brand, while also engaging with your brand-aware market in a new way, which can be vital for keeping your hotel top of mind when it is time to book.

Pro - Machine Learning

Since Performance Max leverages machine learning, it can identify and capture unseen markets that are not as apparent through its deep data learning models. This means that Performance Max can enable businesses to reach new markets that resonate with their brand. 

Con - Budget

Because Performance Max campaigns serve ads across so many channels, the cost of this campaign type can get pretty high compared to others such as Search. You’ll need a fair amount of budget to cover all of the included channels, and this budget will need to be consistent for a few months until the campaign has time to ramp up and generate a healthy return.

Con - Reporting

Data for Performance Max campaigns is very limited compared to other campaign types you may be familiar with. Most metrics are available only at the campaign level, with no breakdown based on advertising channel, audience, or other common segments. Even data on ad copy is missing, with each asset only getting a rating of “Low” to “Best” when compared to other assets in the campaign.

Con - Control

Since Performance Max campaigns are designed to maximize conversions across Google Ads, there’s very little control over this campaign type. You can not choose which channels your ads will display on, audience signals only train the algorithm and don’t give you targeting options, and bid modifiers are limited. Performance Max is an all-or-nothing campaign, and you must have an overwhelming amount of trust in Google to serve your ads efficiently.

Con - Ad Overlap

Finally, Performance Max could have a negative impact on your existing Google Ads campaigns. Google prioritizes Performance Max in almost every case, the only exception being Search campaigns where exact match keywords rank higher than your Performance Max ads. This means that existing phrase match keywords, Display campaigns, Video campaigns, and Shopping campaigns may be eclipsed by Performance Max and see less traffic in the long run.

Should I Use Google’s Performance Max?

There’s really no right answer, since the effectiveness of Performance Max can vary depending on your marketing goals, existing Google Ads account data, and other factors. If you already have a strong brand, with high-performing ads in other campaign types, then Performance Max may end up hurting more than helping. However, if you’re seeing lackluster marketing performance, or want to generate more awareness for a brand with little recognition, Performance Max could be a great way to elevate your marketing efforts.

If you need help deciding if this campaign is for you, or just want more information on Performance Max campaigns, feel free to reach out using the information below.